QB Club 2002
Review By: Jared Black
long-running football series, despite some degree of success,
has always been dwarfed (both in sales and quality) by EA’s
juggernaut Madden series. The last hardware generation saw
Acclaim gain some ground on EA, as the QB Club series did pretty
well on the Nintendo 64. With a new hardware generation here
with the PS2, Acclaim has another fresh opportunity to catch EA.
Thus far, they haven’t made much progress. In almost every
facet of the game, NFL QB Club 2002 is nothing more than
find all the standard modes here, including Exhibition,
Practice, Season, Simulation, and Playoffs. All of these are
self-explanatory with the possible exception of the Simulation
mode, and found in other football games. Simulation allows the
player to set up various parameters and recreate different game
situations. The one trump card that this series has always held
over the Madden series is the exclusive Quarterback Challenge
mode, and it makes a triumphant return this year. This mode does
a good job of recreating the QB Challenge held every off-season,
as it allows you to participate in all four events featured in
the real thing.
NFL QB Club 2002 is missing the one thing that makes Madden so
great: the Franchise mode. For any true football fan, this game
mode has become an essential part of every football game.
Admittedly, after playing several seasons of Madden it was tough
going back to being limited to only one year. Additionally, the
game lacks several other features that the competition has, such
as being able to create your own team from scratch. While the QB
Challenge is a fun and interesting diversion, in no way does it
make up for the lack of features (relative to the competition)
extended to the gameplay itself, as there are severe problems
found with several areas. First we have the AI, which is
competent but certainly not worthy of praise. Offensively, it’s
far too easy to score and move the ball no matter the difficulty
level. Computer-controlled defensive backs will often be out of
position on even the simplest of routes to cover, and a very
effective turbo option (pressing X) will allow even the slowest
of running backs to make big gains by bumping it outside. Worse
still, the offensive linemen actually mimic the moves of the
running back and block accordingly. As a result, zigzagging the
running back is often the most effective way to set up your
downfield blocking, and once that's mastered the player will
have no problem breaking huge gains. That’s totally
unrealistic (how do your lineman see you suddenly reverse
direction behind them), and should’ve died out at the end of
the 16-bit era. On the whole, the entire gameplay experience
just screams "16-bit".
QB Club feels great and in some ways actually surpasses Madden.
This game uses the "NFL2K-style" feel, where your
players can stop on a dime and will instantly respond to any
command you give them. This is in sharp contrast to Madden,
where real physics are incorporated into the gameplay resulting
in realistic cutbacks and response times. Each has it’s
proponents, but neither one is really better than the other. NFL
QB Club 2002 executes this style well, so if you’re a fan of
Sega’s NFL2K this one may appeal to you.
QB Club just has a very poor look overall. While stadiums are
rendered with accurate detail, they’re missing some of the
extras found in the Madden series such as an abundance of
sideline items. The animation is both good and bad. While it’s
good that there are a lot of different player animations, it’s
bad that they rarely transition that well. As a result, players
move in a very robotic and totally unreal fashion from one
animation to the next. That’s not the only thing plaguing the
players’ appearance however, as the player models are almost
laughable. Proportioning is way off on a number of models, with
tiny players featuring huge arms and the jersey numbers being
out of whack (too long and skinny) with the rest of the body.
About the only good trait here are the faces, as over 350
players’ faces were imaged into the game and the emotion they
show often looks pretty good. Throw in a jittery framerate (don’t
play in heavy snow!) and a very washed-out appearance however,
and you’re left with a game that looks more like a souped-up
PSone game than a PS2 title.
The sound is
also a throwback to the good old SNES days. Most of the sound
effects are somewhat over the top, with a more arcade feel than
a real-life feel. The crowd is average…little more than a
drone in the background. Really the only highlight in this area
is the commentary of the team of Kevin Harlan and Bill Maas.
This "C-team" from FOX actually does a better job in
many ways than Madden and Summerall do. Their commentary is
witty, often insightful, and just in general gives off more
personality than the competition. While it also has it’s fair
share of problems (sound bites will often cut off unexpectedly
and they sometimes call the action wrong), they do a much better
job overall with the commentary. Then again, maybe they just
seem more tolerable to me because they handle most of the
Carolina Panthers’ games in my area.
while not excellent, is much better than in that
"other" football game.
QB Challenge mode is an enjoyable mini-game.
an alternative to Madden’s realistic control.
the graphics are solid enough, they lack polish and look
pretty ugly when compared to other PS2 titles.
- The sound
effects are far from realistic and even sound terrible when
compared to arcade football titles like Blitz.
- Lack of a
franchise mode severely hurts replay value.
QB Club 2002 offers up a playable and sometimes enjoyable
experience, in the end it isn’t even worthy of holding John
Madden’s jockstrap (not that anyone would want to…). The
only real advantage this game offers over Madden is the
user-friendly (arcade-like) control scheme, but even so NFL2K2
has almost the same setup and will be far superior to this game
on every level. My advice to Acclaim is to pour some serious
effort into overhauling this once-beloved series and pull it
kicking and screaming out of the 16-bit era.